Salário Mínimo

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Although their name would draw blank stares from most anyone outside their homeland, São Paulo, Brazil's Salário Mínimo -- or "Minimum Wage" in Portuguese -- were one of the key pioneers of hard rock…
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Although their name would draw blank stares from most anyone outside their homeland, São Paulo, Brazil's Salário Mínimo -- or "Minimum Wage" in Portuguese -- were one of the key pioneers of hard rock in that South American country. Formed in 1979, when Brazilian youth culture still struggled for expression from within the iron grip of a two-decade-long military dictatorship, and a national rock scene -- never mind a heavy metal one -- seemed like an impossible dream, Salário Mínimo became fixtures in what passed for a club circuit in and around São Paulo at the time. Support for local talent was so scarce, in fact, that the group -- comprised of guitarist Júnior Muzilli, bassist Magoo, drummer Bea Junior, and colorfully named vocalist China Lee -- would only get their first chance to record in 1984, when they were asked to contribute two tracks ("Cabeça Metal" and "Delírio Estelar") to the seminal S.P. Metal compilation.

Released just months before the legendary Rock in Rio festival that finally brought Brazilians face to face with some of the world's biggest rock & roll stars in January of 1985, the comp helped to build Salário Mínimo's profile and led to a deal with RCA. Unfortunately, by the time Salário Mínimo unleashed their full-length debut, Beijo Fatal, in 1987, their cleaner hard rock sound and glammed-up image no longer gelled with the local movement's more extreme, English-speaking metallic exponents (Sepultura, Sarcofago, Vulcano, etc.); nor did it gibe with mainstream rock consumers. Sales were dismal and gigs eventually dried up; the band was duly dropped and then decided to call it quits by 1990. Salário Mínimo's cult appeal lingered, however, and, as well as sparking sporadic and unexpected fan interest in Beijo Fatal from abroad during the years that followed, domestic nostalgia was also enough to convince the group to re-form and start performing occasional shows again in 2002.